Thursday, September 2, 2021

Paranoia and conspiracy thinking are known to be distinct but correlated constructs, but it is unknown whether certain types of conspiracy thinking are more common in paranoia than others...

Greenburgh, Anna, Alice Liefgreen, Vaughan Bell, and Nichola Raihani. 2021. “Factors Affecting Conspiracy Theory Endorsement in Paranoia.” PsyArXiv. September 2. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Paranoia and conspiracy thinking are known to be distinct but correlated constructs, but it is unknown whether certain types of conspiracy thinking are more common in paranoia than others. In a large (n=1000), pre-registered online study we tested if endorsement of items on a new Components of Conspiracy Ideation Questionnaire varied according to a) whether harm was described as being intentional, and b) whether they were self-referential. Our predictions were supported: paranoia was positively associated with endorsement of items on this questionnaire overall and more paranoid individuals were more likely to endorse items describing intentional and self-referential harm. Belief in one item on the Components of Conspiracy Ideation Questionnaire was associated with belief in others and items describing incidental harm and harm to others were found to be more believable overall. Individuals who endorsed conspiracy theory items on the questionnaire were more likely to state that people similar to them would as well, although, counter to our expectations, this effect was not reduced in paranoia.

COVID-19: Group sex events were cancelled & guys only had sex with others they were isolating with; also reported attending online events (Zoom orgies); some say moving online opened up new opportunities for community-building

Group sex in the time of COVID: Intimacy, learning, and community-building in sexual communities during a pandemic. Anabelle Bernard Fournier et al. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Sep 1 2021.


Introduction: COVID-19 has had a profound effect on every aspect of contemporary life, including sexuality. Physical distancing measures and limitations on large gatherings explicitly restrict in-person group sex events. We sought to understand how the pandemic and associated public health control measures have affected group sex practitioners and activities.

Methods: We used a community-based participatory research approach. In fall 2019, we recruited a Community Advisory Board (CAB) of group sex key informants via community agencies, social media, and relevant websites (e.g., FetLife, Squirt). To be eligible, participants had to be at least 18 years old and have recently participated in a local group sex event (i.e. sex, broadly defined, with more than 3 people). Ethics approval was secured for the CAB as a longitudinal focus group study. Focus group meetings were audio recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed. In December 2019, participants were asked about definitions of group sex. In May 2020, participants were asked about COVID-19 impacts.

Results: Key informants shared that due to COVID-19 restrictions, group sex events were cancelled and participants only had sex with others they were isolating with. Participants emphasized the challenges of isolation, the need to be patient, but also the opportunities associated with isolation. Participants reported attending online group sex events (e.g. Zoom orgies) as well as skill-building classes (e.g. rope bondage). Participants anticipated in-person events in the future, but felt that moving online opened up new opportunities for community-building.

Conclusions: Participants adhered to physical distancing protocols and quickly adapted to social isolation through innovative use of technology.

KEYWORDS: COVID-19, community-based participatory research, focus group, group sex, sexuality

Exposure to partisan and centrist news websites – no matter if it is congenial or cross-cutting – does not enhance polarization; null effects are found among strong & weak partisans, & for Democrats & Republicans alike

Wojcieszak, Magdalena, Sjifra E. de Leeuw, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, Seungsu Lee, Ke M. Huang-Isherwood, and Brian Weeks. 2021. “Wojcieszak Et Al No Polarization from Partisan News IJPP Forthcoming.” OSF Preprints. September 1 2021. doi:10.31219/

Abstract: Many blame partisan news media for polarization in America. This paper examines the effects of liberal, conservative, and centrist news on affective and attitude polarization. To this end, we rely on two studies that combine two-wave panel surveys (N1 = 303, N2 = 904) with 12 months worth of web browsing data submitted by the same participants comprising roughly 38 million visits. We identify news exposure using an extensive list of news domains and develop a machine learning classifier to identify exposure to political news within these domains. The results offer a robust pattern of null findings. Exposure to partisan and centrist news websites – no matter if it is congenial or cross-cutting – does not enhance polarization. These null effects also emerge among strong and weak partisans as well as Democrats and Republicans alike. We argue that these null results accurately portray the reality of limited effects of news in the “real world.” Politics and partisan news account for a small fraction of citizens’ online activities, less than 2% in our trace data, and are nearly unnoticeable in the overall information and communication ecology of most individuals.

Supernatural Explanations Across the Globe Are More Common for Natural Than Social Phenomena

Jackson, Joshua C., Danica Wilbanks, Brock Bastian, Joseph Watts, Dr., Nicholas DiMaggio, and Kurt Gray. 2021. “Supernatural Explanations Across the Globe Are More Common for Natural Than Social Phenomena.” PsyArXiv. September 2. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Supernatural beliefs are common in every human society, and people frequently invoke the supernatural to explain natural (e.g., storms, disease outbreaks) and social (e.g., murder, warfare) events. However, evolutionary and psychological theories of religion raise competing hypotheses about whether supernatural explanations should more commonly focus on natural or social phenomena. Here we test these hypotheses with a global analysis of supernatural explanations in 109 geographically and culturally diverse societies. We find that supernatural explanations are more prevalent for natural phenomena than for social phenomena, an effect that generalizes across regions and subsistence styles and cannot be reduced to the frequency of natural vs. social phenomena or common cultural ancestry. We also find that supernatural explanations of social phenomena only occur in societies that also have supernatural explanations of natural phenomena. This evidence is consistent with theories that ground the origin of supernatural belief in a human tendency to perceive intent and agency in nature.

Women feel more attractive before ovulation: evidence from a large-scale online diary study

Women feel more attractive before ovulation: evidence from a large-scale online diary study. Lara Schleifenbaum, Julie C. Driebe, Tanja M. Gerlach, Lars Penke, Ruben C. Arslan. Sep 1 2021.

Abstract: How attractive we find ourselves decides who we target as potential partners and influences our reproductive fitness. Self-perceptions on women’s fertile days could be particularly important. However, results on how self-perceived attractiveness changes across women’s ovulatory cycles are inconsistent and research has seldomly assessed multiple attractiveness-related constructs  simultaneously. Here, we give an overview of ovulatory cycle shifts in self-perceived attractiveness, sexual desirability, grooming, self-esteem and positive mood. We addressed previous methodological shortcomings by conducting a large, preregistered online diary study of 872 women (580 naturally cycling) across 70 consecutive days, applying several robustness analyses, and comparing naturally cycling women to women using hormonal contraceptives. As expected, we found robust evidence for ovulatory increases in self-perceived attractiveness and sexual desirability in naturally cycling women. Unexpectedly, we found moderately robust evidence for smaller ovulatory increases in self-esteem and positive mood. Although grooming showed an ovulatory increase descriptively, the effect was small, failed to reach our strict significance level of .01 and was not robust to model variations. We discuss how these results could follow an ovulatory increase in sexual motivation while calling for more  theoretical and causally informative research to uncover the nature of ovulatory cycle shifts in the  future.

Social Media Summary: Women report higher attractiveness, desirability, self-esteem and positive mood but not more grooming when fertile

Cognition and well-being are inextricably intertwined during development and may be malleable to social and biological factors

Well-Being and Cognition Are Coupled During Development: A Preregistered Longitudinal Study of 1,136 Children and Adolescents. Delia Fuhrmann, Anne-Laura van Harmelen, Rogier A. Kievit. Clinical Psychological Science, August 31, 2021.

Abstract: Well-being and cognition are linked in adulthood, but how the two domains interact during development is currently unclear. Using a complex systems approach, we preregistered and modeled the relationship between well-being and cognition in a prospective cohort of 1,136 children between the ages of 6 to 7 years and 15 years. We found bidirectional interactions between well-being and cognition that unfold dynamically over time. Higher externalizing symptoms in childhood predicted fewer gains in planning over time (standardized estimate [β] = −0.14, p = .019), whereas higher childhood vocabulary predicted smaller increases in loneliness over time (β = −0.34, p ≤ .001). These interactions were characterized by modifiable risk and resilience factors: Relationships to parents, friendship quality, socioeconomic status, and puberty onset were all linked to both cognitive and well-being outcomes. Thus, cognition and well-being are inextricably intertwined during development and may be malleable to social and biological factors.

Keywords: adolescent peer relations, complex systems, loneliness, Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD), vocabulary, preregistered

We investigated the interactions between cognition and well-being in a large longitudinal cohort of 1,136 children and adolescents. Replicating previous, and largely cross-sectional, work (Irie et al., 2019Rock et al., 2014), we showed pervasive cross-sectional links between cognition and well-being that indicated that cognition and well-being were already linked at 6 to 7 years of age. After we modeled longitudinal changes over time, however, a more subtle pattern emerged. Longitudinal links existed only for very specific domains and showed evidence of dynamic coupling.

Lower externalizing symptoms in childhood predicted more favorable planning trajectories. Externalizing symptoms include overactivity, poor impulse control, noncompliance, and aggression. Externalizing symptoms are linked to deficits in planning and similar executive function tasks in children with ADHD (Kuja-Halkola et al., 2015). We here show that ADHD in our study, too, predicts externalizing trajectories. Our findings extend this literature by showing similar associations in the general population. Our findings further indicate that behavioral symptoms may precede cognitive problems. Speculatively, behavioral problems may lead to social issues in school (Timmons & Margolin, 2015), which, in turn, may hamper academic attainment and cognitive development (Okano et al., 2020).

The opposite directionality emerged for the link between vocabulary and loneliness: Higher vocabulary in childhood predicted less loneliness in adolescence. The link is intuitive: Better verbal skills may allow children to relate better to others and protect against loneliness (Fritz et al., 2018). However, there is currently surprisingly little research investigating longitudinal links between vocabulary and loneliness, let alone longitudinal links in the general population (but see Forrest et al., 2018). We know that loneliness is linked to physical and mental health (Eccles et al., 2020Matthews et al., 2016). Self-reported loneliness has been shown to be predictive of sleep (Eccles et al., 2020) and depression (Matthews et al., 2016)—and more so than more objective measures of social isolation (Matthews et al., 2016).

The complexity of our models required several statistical decisions that were not anticipated at the time of preregistration. For instance, we preregistered using linear latent growth curve models but found universally poor fit for these models. We therefore used a latent basis function approach that allowed us to freely estimate growth shapes and significantly improved model fit. Some statistical issues persisted even after attempts to improve model fit. The models to assess interactions between math and well-being showed poor model fit, for instance. These models, therefore, need to be interpreted with caution. For transparency, we clearly highlight deviations from our preregistration throughout the article.

Our findings suggest that interventions aimed at addressing behavioral problems and fostering verbal skills could be promising for improving cognition and well-being outcomes. Past research has shown that behavioral problems can be targeted by interventions, including measures such as parent training, family support, and school-based programs. However, long-term effectiveness has been studied little so far (Smedler et al., 2015), and little is known about possible effects on cognitive development. There is comparatively good evidence that loneliness is malleable to interventions. Most loneliness interventions have targeted older adults (Cattan et al., 2005) and used strategies such as improving social skills, enhancing social support, increasing opportunities for social contact, and addressing maladaptive social cognition (Masi et al., 2011). A meta-analysis showed that these are generally effective for reducing loneliness, particularly when targeting social cognition (Masi et al., 2011). Fewer interventions exist for young people, and of those available, most target loneliness as a side effect of physical health conditions. Because of the potential ramifications of loneliness for physical and mental health, we recommend replicating and extending our findings in future research to better understand how vocabulary relates to loneliness and test whether interventions improving vocabulary have positive effects on loneliness.

On a theoretical level, our findings of bidirectional relations between specific domains of cognition and well-being in childhood and adolescence provide evidence for mutualistic relationships between cognition and well-being that unfold dynamically over development. Small individual differences in externalizing in childhood may set children on different planning trajectories. Small differences in vocabulary may predict different trajectories of loneliness. This supports the complex systems account of mental health problems and cognitive development (Borsboom, 2017Burger et al., 2020Fritz et al., 2018Kievit et al., 2017Lunansky et al., 2020McElroy et al., 2018Van Der Maas et al., 2006). Our study shows that not only are cognition and well-being complex systems in and of themselves, but they also interact with one another during development, generating yet further dynamic processes.

Risk and resilience factors explain heterogeneity in trajectories

Relationships between well-being and cognition were highly heterogeneous, particularly for loneliness and its relationship with cognition. Lower vocabulary was associated with a spike in loneliness around 8 to 9 years for 12% of the sample. Around ages 10 to 11, adolescents in the United States transition from elementary to middle school. However, there are no obvious school transitions around ages 8 to 9 in the United States, which makes it more likely that spikes in loneliness around this age reflect a more intrinsic developmental pattern. Previous work suggests that the period between late childhood and early adolescence represents a time of biological and social change (Andersen & Teicher, 2008Blakemore & Mills, 2014Fuhrmann et al., 2019). This may lead to increases in loneliness and reduced well-being for a subset of young people.

In our sample, a subset of young people was characterized by risk factors including earlier puberty, lower socioeconomic status, lower friendship quality, and poorer relationships with parents. This is in line with previous work highlighting the links between early physical maturation and mental health (Lewis et al., 2018Sequeira et al., 2017). Early puberty onset has also been associated with lower performance, particularly on self-control and risk-taking tasks (Laube et al., 2020), and lower academic attainment (Cavanagh et al., 2007). Developmental theories suggest that early puberty may accentuate preexisting differences in childhood (Caspi & Moffitt, 1991) or impair plasticity and learning (Schulz et al., 2009). Note, however, that several empirical (Chaku & Hoyt, 2019Koerselman & Pekkarinen, 2017) and theoretical studies (Belsky et al., 2007Laube & Fuhrmann, 2020) now suggest that in supportive environments, early puberty can be linked to more positive cognitive outcomes, too. Chaku and Hoyt (2019) showed that early maturation may be associated with lower self-control but also better attention. The social context also shapes outcomes after early puberty (Belsky et al., 2007). Preliminary evidence suggests that supportive contexts may allow early maturers to benefit from new learning opportunities in adolescence (Klopack et al., 2020).

Overall, these findings underline that biological factors intersect with social risk and resilience factors such as socioeconomic status, parental closeness, and friendship quality. All three were here found to be independently linked to poorer cognitive and well-being outcomes (after controlling for the other two social risk factors). This finding is in line with an emerging body of literature highlighting that socioeconomic status (Hackman et al., 2015), friendship quality (van Harmelen et al., 20162017Ybarra et al., 2010), and relationships to parents (Laursen & Collins, 2009) are linked to cognitive, well-being, and mental health outcomes. This underscores the importance of social support in schools to improve well-being.

These findings highlight several promising avenues for future research. For this study, we used a rich longitudinal data set with high-quality measures of cognition and well-being that covered major aspects of each domain. Future studies could explore other interesting aspects of cognition (e.g., working memory) and well-being (e.g., life satisfaction and depression). Although SECCYD allowed us to assess developmental sequences and identify potential risk and resilience factors in a large and diverse cohort, the observational nature of the sample precludes any assessments of causality. Future experimental and intervention research will therefore need to establish cause and effect in the development of cognition and well-being. The heterogeneity in loneliness trajectories observed here using exploratory methods also invites further study. Future studies of heterogeneity are needed to confirm which young people are most at risk of loneliness and at what point in their life. We will need to test candidate mechanisms (e.g., pubertal changes) and later life outcomes (e.g., mental health). Loneliness itself is a heterogeneous experience: It may be experienced as neutral or even positive depending on the individual and circumstances. Better understanding and more specific measurement of negative and positive experiences of loneliness in adolescence, as well as the relationship between loneliness, social dissatisfaction, and social isolation, will allow us to better tease apart the underlying mechanisms. Finally, alternative analytic approaches may yield complementary insights into developmental processes. Cross-lagged panel models, for instance, could isolate effects from one wave to the next, which could be particularly interesting for the study of developmental transitions.

Love and marital satisfaction: Women showed stronger association between perception of intimacy and marital satisfaction than men did

Love for a Marriage Story: The Association Between Love and Marital Satisfaction in Middle Adulthood. Gyesook Yoo & Susanna Joo. Journal of Child and Family Studies, Aug 12 2021.

Abstract: The present study examined the associations between perceptions of love and marital satisfaction and gender moderations among Korean middle-aged married men and women. Two hundred and four married middle adults aged 40 to 59 living with heterosexual spouses in Seoul participated in this study. Regression based moderation analysis was utilized using PROCESS MACRO. Results showed that the average of love perception was the moderate level, and men reported higher perceptions of love, passion, commitment, and marital satisfaction compared to women, while no gender difference in perception of intimacy. Also, love and its three components were positively associated with marital satisfaction. The moderation effect of gender on the association between perception of intimacy and marital satisfaction was significant. Specifically, women showed stronger association between perception of intimacy and marital satisfaction than men did. These results imply that love plays an important role in strengthening marital quality in general, but the intimate interactions were gendered in middle adulthood marriage context in South Korea.